Watching WCW events from the year 2000 is like trying to watch Thomas The Tank Engine with a concussion: it’s hard to follow, it gives you a headache and all you can remember are a series of train wrecks. But where is the Atlanta-based company’s nadir? Where’s the point where the trench became so deep that the only light left is a nitrogen narcosis-induced hallucination? Maybe Bash at the Beach 2000 where head writer Vince Russo work-shot Hulk Hogan out of the company? The episode of Thunder where David Arquette won the title? Or the following Slamboree 2000 where he defended the belt in a triple decker cage match?
Well, if you’re after worked shoots, Russo booking, and more Arquette, New Blood Rising has you covered. 6,614 poor souls filed into the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, Canada on August 13th, 2000 to witness this event live, while the people at home only amounted to a 0.18 PPV buy rate. This wasn’t the lowest the ratings would go, being higher than that year’s Starrcade, but it maintained the downward spiral if it didn’t speed it up. For one thing, despite being named after the company’s New Blood stable- plucky youngsters trying to unseat the old guard- the group itself had dissolved by the time the event went to air.
The commentators tonight are Tony Schiavone, Scott Hudson and Mark Madden, covering 11 matches over 2 hours and 47 minutes. The opening video package features WCW champion Booker T trading barbs with Jeff Jarrett, before shifting to the 3-way dance between Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner and the newly heel Goldberg. Guess which angle is treated like the bigger deal; the one with the belt or the one with Big Sexy, Big Poppa Pump and Big…uh…mistake-turning-him-into-a baddie. There’s also a brief VT featuring three overly eager fans grunting their support for Nash, Goldberg and Steiner respectively, which makes one feel less sympathetic for the horror they are about to see.
3 Count (w/ Tank Abbott) vs. The Jung Dragons
3 Count- Shannon Moore, Evan Karagias and Shane Helms (not yet Hurricane or Gregory)- were a wrestling boyband. It’s not a bad gimmick for a 2000’s-era midcard troupe. Though having growly MMA fighter Tank Abbott leading them into their dorky song (“We like the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync too, Britney Spears is kinda cute”), complete with dance routine, probably wasn’t on most people’s cards. It’s cut short by the arrival of the Jung Dragons- Kaz Hayashi, Yang (sans ‘Jimmy Wang’ prefix) and Jamie-San, aka Jamie Noble in a mask.
Neither team have the Tag Team belts on them, so this match is for 3 Count’s framed gold record and recording contract. You can tell it’s a recording contract because it has ‘Recording Contract’ in a big red logo at the top. It starts off like a tag match, with two men in the ring while the others wait on the apron. Then they forget all about that, run to get the ladders, and fight under tornado rules. Huh?
Still, the action was fast paced, and it had a few good spots in there too, like Jamie-San taking a high dive to the outside from the top of a ladder onto 3 Count. Or the seesaw ladder-spot that infamously went wrong for Joey Mercury 9 years later. But it doesn’t beat anything the WWE weren’t already offering at this time. The Three-Way Tag Team Ladder match from WrestleMania 2000 had only happened a few months ago, and the first TLC match at Summerslam was just a fortnight away. Try as they might, they couldn’t match Edge & Christian, the Hardyz or the Dudleys. Not even in musical taste or being dorky heels.
Plus, there’s the first of many screwy finishes. Jamie-San got the gold record, but Tank Abbott knocked him down and took it off hi. This somehow counted as a point in 3 Count’s favour despite him not being part of the match. Evan gets the recording contract, then Tank Abbott takes both and dances up the aisle as 3 Count celebrate in the ring. Wonderful.
We then go backstage where the Filthy Animals- Konnan, Rey Mysterio Jr (sans mask), Juventud Guerrera, Disco Inferno and Tygress- are messing about in Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller’s office. But they have a reason to be there; Mysterio says they want to referee the 4-Way Tag Team match for the titles, then take on the winners on Nitro the next night. Nothing like advertising a free show on your pay-per-view. As WCW Commissioner, Ernest Miller agrees and makes it happen.
The Great Muta vs. Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller
No wonder they call him ‘The Cat’, as he manages to get from his office to the ring in a snap Maybe his desk is set up in the Gorilla position, or it was a pre-taped vignette. Either/Or. Now he has to face one of Japan’s most famous wrestlers. To think he started off in WCW taking on Sting and then, about a decade later, he’s fighting Eric Bischoff’s karate teacher. This was part of the company’s working relationship with New Japan at the time, and it’s a wonder Muta didn’t escape to All Japan. Not for a few years anyway.
Still, Ernest’s certainly got pep in his step. While Muta’s usual spooky mystique is undercut by his bald spot. If he his face paint was white instead of black, he’d resemble Sting’s look at WrestleMania 31. Miller starts the match by saying “You are the Great Muta, and I’m gonna beat your great ass!” before punching him into a 10-punch spot. I hope you like punchy-kicky stuff, because Miller isn’t so hot with the grapples.
Muta manages a few throws, like an armbar, a quick dragon screw, and a quick leglock. But otherwise the most memorable spots involved punches, kicks, a missed moonsault and some dancing. Muta does his trademark poison mist, but then Tygress smacks Muta with a chair from behind when the ref isn’t looking. It sounds like a screwy finish, but it isn’t. Muta kicks out at 2 so Miller can kick him a little more, dance, then hit him with his Feliner finisher (another kick) and get the 3. Least it was painless, though you’d be troubled to remember it afterwards.
Luckily the next match is much more memorable. Backstage, Buff Bagwell is looking for his mom.
Judy Bagwell On A Pole Match
Buff Bagwell vs. Positively Kanyon
It was going to be a pole, but Kanyon says he couldn’t find a pole sturdy enough to carry that “big, fat battleaxe”. So, we get a forklift instead, much to Russo’s dismay I’m sure. She’s raised high on a palette set up on the forks. If Kanyon wins, he gets Judy Bagwell as a valet. If Bagwell wins, he gets to look his mom in the eye again at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
At first Bagwell just goes straight to the forklift to get her down until Kanyon intercepts him. As silly as it is, this little moment is perhaps the smartest piece of ring psychology thus far. Then they brawl out into the crowd, which the camera crew have trouble following until they get back to the ring and officially start the match. Buff tries for a 10-punch spot, but Kanyon reminds him that was already done tonight by striking him with a low-blow. All while Judy Bagwell is screeching at them from her makeshift podium.
Nothing can ever be simple here. While other wrestlers would untie the pads to expose the turnbuckle, Kanyon uses wire cutters instead. Though it does lead to a nice dodge by Buff, followed by a reversal by Kanyon into a sit-out Alabama Slam. Despite its weird gimmick, the match is working out better than Muta and Miller by actually featuring wrestling. The two manage to tell a story in the match, be it with the exposed turnbuckle, or Kanyon pulling out all the stops to try and put Bagwell down.
Then things get better (?) when David Arquette (“It’s the World Champion!” screams Madden) comes down the aisle to help Kanyon out. It doesn’t work, but it’s the thought that counts. Buff hits the two with a double version of his Blockbuster finisher, then frees his mom from the forklift. It might be one of the stupidest gimmicks to ever come out of any wrestling organisation, let alone WCW, yet it somehow works at being entertaining. Not in a legit way, but in an ironic, B-movie way. It’d make a nice combo with Summerslam 2005’s Custody Papers Ladder Match.
Outside the arena, “an official Canadian vehicle” pulls up with police escorts. A man opens the door to reveal Lance Storm making his arrival. Then we cut to the announcer’s table where Schiavone’s announcement that Goldberg was involved in a motorcycle accident and might not make it to the show. It’s so serious Mark Madden drapes himself in the Canadian flag.
WCW World Tag Team Championship Fatal Four Way Match
KroniK (C) (Bryan Clark & Brian Adams) vs. Misfits In Action (General Rection & Corporal Cajun) vs. The Perfect Event (Shawn Stasiak & Chuck Palumbo) vs. Mark Jindrak & Sean O’ Haire
The Filthy Animals make their way to the ring, each decked in a ref’s shirt. Konnan joins the commentators, while the others hang about while the rest of the teams come in. Konnan compares Jindrak and O’Haire to Wonderbread, before saying the Canadian Prime Minister should declare the ring “a disaster area”. It’s not until everyone’s in the ring that Disco Inferno explains what the Animals are there for; he’s the ref, while the other Animals are ringside enforcers. If any one of them are touched by anyone, they will be disqualified, fined and made to “wrestle polar bears in Nome, Alaska for the next 6 months.”
It’s a bit confusing. Tygress helped good guy Miller out, but the rest of the Animals are heels? Or maybe she was helping him just so he’d agree to this weird, overbooked multi-ref, multi-man match to begin with. It’s almost as confusing as the match, as two men start off (Brian Adams and Chuck Palumbo) while the other tag teams wait outside. Those in the match can tag anyone from any other team to get involved, while anyone thrown to the outside is at the mercy of a beatdown from the ‘enforcers’.
This is a hard match to follow, as the then-rookie teams (Perfect Event, Jindrak & O’Haire) deal with the ho-hum MiA and never-great KroniK. The commentary doesn’t help, as both Konnan and Madden drive the Animals’ catchphrase (“Because I got it like that!”) into the ground. Madden yelps like Jerry Lawler without a filter when Tygress leaps in to do a Bronco Buster on General Rection, making me wish for Kanyon and his forklift to come back. Mysterio tries to go for one of his own, but Rection raises his boot and low blows the future WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Just something to keep in mind when you see him in his goofy devil horns hopping about like a human pogo stick.
This match is basically a mess of muscleheads and screwy officiating. There is no story; only chaos. The Dark Carnival- Vampiro and Muta- briefly interfere to little effect. Disco refuses to count for KroniK when they pin Palumbo. Luckily MiA member Lieutenant Loco (Chavo Guerrero Jr) comes in, takes off Disco’s ref shirt, puts it on and counts the pin for them. Why didn’t he help his stablemates Rection and Cajun? Maybe he’s just into fair play, or he just wanted to bring this sloppy bout to a speedy end. Either way, the Animals have to face KroniK on Nitro the next night, but Konnan says they’ll have a plan. Like making the bookers go back to the drawing board.
Pamela Paulshock interviews Jeff Jarrett about his championship match tonight, but he’s more interested in where “that Jurassic slapass” Gene Okerlund is. He also accuses her of sleeping with him, and that the thought of it would make him “puke all over (Pamela)”. He finally gets on topic and says Booker T better have eyes in the back of his head, that’s he’s gonna get the belt back, and so on.
‘The Franchise’ Shane Douglas (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Billy Kidman
Douglas cuts a quick, standard promo about Kidman messing about with sex tapes on the prior Nitros. This match happened weeks after their infamous Viagra On a Pole match on Nitro, so it’s relatively pedestrian by comparison. They even nixed the usual four-corner-touch victory stipulation. It’s just a regular match where the two men happen to be tied to each other by the wrist. Still, at least it’s easy to follow. They fight on the outside, smack each other with the strap, Douglas chokes Kidman with it before smacking him some more. Wilson even gets a few digs in on Kidman when the ref isn’t looking. Typical face vs heel w/valet action. Madden keeps bringing up the Animals’ catchphrase, while whinging about how strap matches aren’t proper wrestling. Someone somehow gave this guy a job.
Eventually Kidman hits the Kidman Krush (Unprettier/Killswitch) and wins the match. There wasn’t really much to it. The post-bout beatdown ended up having more memorable spots, though that doesn’t mean it’s better. Kidman sticks the strap on Wilson and spanks her with it until Douglas cuts him off. Then Douglas tries to literally hang Kidman by the neck with the strap until Big Vito makes the save. Then Reno comes in to beat on Vito before he’s seen off. They must be the next big midcard feud, because Schiavone reminds the audience of “the eye contact these two had on Thunder”.
Outside, Booker T finally arrives in a fancy white car. Then Jeff Jarrett comes out, beat on Booker, then slams the car door repeatedly on his leg. So, Booker T might not even make it to the ring…and thus calling off the match and cancelling Jarrett’s opportunity to get the belt back. With both Goldberg and Booker injured, the main events might not happen. Shame the next match couldn’t have been shelved instead.
Major Gunns vs. Miss Hancock
‘ROTC’ meaning ‘Rip Off the Camouflage’. There’s also a random mud pool put up by the entrance way. Something tells me it’s not for the main event, and that this won’t be a Shimmer/Stardom-calibre classic. Major Gunns (Tylene Buck) prances down to the ring in tiny camo pants, while Hancock (Stacy Keibler) struts down in a camo-pattern dress. Both are enough to make Madden scream ‘Snoochie boochies!’ I hate this man. The match is lame too, but it wasn’t designed for workrate anyway. Just horny boys and manboys more interested in wardrobe malfunctions than wondering why Hancock doesn’t stamp on Gunns’ bare feet with her combat boots for the advantage.
There are a few moments where Hancock clutches her stomach in pain before continuing the fight and Just-Right-For-TV stripping. Though anyone getting titillated by the eventual mud wrestling would find their mood spoiled by Madden screaming “Do it for Daddy!”. Then by the ending where that foreshadowed stomach trouble becomes a miscarriage angle. Hancock’s foreshadowed stomach-clutching gets serious, leading to Gunns quickly rolling her up for the pin in the mud. The switch from clothes-ripping to pinning is the least of this match’s worries. The miscarriage angle was garbage when the WWE did it with D’Lo Brown and Terri Runnels, and it’s still garbage here. More so when the commentators start treating it like an actual emergency. David Flair comes out to check on Hancock before the EMTs come out with a stretcher to take her away.
Mercifully we go back to an interview with the Dark Carnival. Pamela Paulshock asks Vampiro if the Demon can do what he couldn’t in a series of crappy matches; finish off Sting. If anyone’s wondering if they have anything to do with the Insane Clown Posse’s fanbase, Vampiro refers to his team as the ‘Juggalo Army’. So, anyone down with the Clowns can be happy that they had the Great Muta on their side. They’re likely happier than Muta was about it. The Demon says nothing, and Muta manages a growl. Both are preferable to Schiavone & co milking the miscarriage angle, as Hancock gets wheeled to the back. The commentators even refer to her by her real name to make it seem more serious. It just comes off as distasteful and quite, quite rubbish.
The Demon (Dale Torborg) vs. Sting
This isn’t really a match, but a mid-show angle advertising an extra match on the card. This is two neat entrances- the Demon to red lights and pyro, and Sting rappelling from the ceiling- then a brawl to the ring before a quick Sting victory via a Scorpion Death Drop. The rest of the Dark Carnival run in to attack Sting, then try to hang Sting before KroniK come in to save the day.
They beat down on Vampiro and Muta before Brian Adams gets a microphone and challenges the “ladies” to a match later tonight. He’s even putting their titles on the line as a carrot to go with the stick. There’s a tease of a little dissention in the Carnival’s ranks, as the Demon just watched his buddies get beat up, but you’ll have to watch Nitro to find out if it leads to anything.
Canadian Heavyweight Championship Canadian Rules Match
Lance Storm (C) vs. Mike Awesome
A group of guys hold a long banner with “Storm is Canadian” on it. Just in case Storm’s maple-leaf makeover of his Hardcore, Cruiserweight and (formerly) US titles didn’t give it away. The Vancouver crowd loves him, with multiple Storm signs being shown. Shame he’s the heel, but WCW has a plan to flip that around. After cutting an anti-US, pro-Canada promo, Storm invokes “Rule 32B”. This apparently gives him the power to pick a special guest referee to enforce the Canadian rulebook. Thus, Storm introduces the Vancouver crowd to…Jacques Rougeau. At least Storm’s being impartial; he chose an All-American Boy! Tonight’s perhaps one of the few, if not the only time, Storm and the crowd get to stand for the full duration of the Canadian National Anthem.
This match got a nice writeup in the expanded edition of RD Reynolds & Bryan Alvarez’s Death of WCW book. But just in case you missed it, this is essentially a precursor to the WWE’s Duchess of Queensbury Rules match at Backlash 2001 between Chris Jericho and William Regal. That match worked because a slimy foreigner (Regal) was using supposedly foreign rules to slip out of his opponent’s grasp bit by bit before screwing him over. Here, the Canadian in Canada is using slippery rules because he can’t compete with an American opponent. If the match had been done in the US, then it could’ve worked in getting heat on Storm and making Awesome look good. Instead, it makes Storm look weak- getting saved from visual losses (he gets pinned for both a 3 and 5 count, as well as tapping out) by the former Mountie- and fails to elevate Awesome because (shockingly) the Canadian crowd is more interested in their fellow countryman.
Eventually Awesome puts Storm through a table from the top rope, and Rougeau has ring announcer Dave Penzer declare that the first person to get up within a 10-count wins. Awesome gets up first, Rougeau knocks him down when the ref isn’t looking (one without peripheral vision apparently), getting the win for Storm. If that wasn’t enough, Bret Hart comes out, gets a big pop, then hugs both Rougeau and Storm. Just one more confusing ingredient to an already sloppy matchup.
After a quick T-shirt advert, Pamela Paulshock interviews Kevin Nash. He says he had a feeling Goldberg wouldn’t show up, so he’s going to deal with Steiner. He also says Steiner’s only after two things; “money and the belt.” Because Nash is all about prestige and the history of the sport.
WCW World Tag Team Championship Match
KroniK (C) vs. The Dark Carnival (Vampiro & The Great Muta)
Luckily Nash gets a little more time to prepare, as the impromptu Tag Team title match gets underway. For what it’s worth, this match is easier to follow than the 4-Way Tag battle, being a standard tag match. Muta even gets a better showing out of Clark and Adams than Miller, though it’s hardly a 5-star classic. Even 2 stars would be pushing it. Yet the lack of convoluted rules or crappy angles like fake miscarriages makes it feel refreshing in comparison to the rest of the card. Still, can’t blame the one guy in the crowd who shouted out ‘Boring!’ partway through.
Yet it wouldn’t be WCW without some overbooking. Muta hits the ref accidentally with the Poison Mist, then the Harris Brothers sneak in from the crowd, attack KroniK, give Muta the chance to hit Clark with the Moonsault, and get the win. The Dark Carnival become the new Tag champs, leading Schiavone and co to ponder if it means the Filthy Animals will face them for the title on Nitro instead. Who knows, and who cares?
Then there’s another interview segment, where Pamela asks Booker T if he can still wrestle in the main event. He says Jarrett made one fatal mistake in his assault; he’s still standing. He works in his catchphrase (“Don’t hate the player, hate the game!”) and we’re off into a video package for the 3-Way dance. It’s kind of choppy and messy compared to the ones in the WWE, but it gets the message across; Nash is the goody, Steiner and Goldberg are the baddies, they don’t like each other, and it’s going to take a 3-Way Dance to sort this all out.
#1 Contendership Three Way Dance
Kevin Nash vs. Goldberg vs. Scott Steiner
Nash and Steiner do their entrance schtick, then Goldberg’s music plays. Maybe he’ll be there after all? Not yet anyway. They play his music a second time, much to Schiavone’s confusion, but nothing. One fan’s sign declares “Goldberg Fears Gillberg”, but they’d have to wait another 3 years for that match-up. Nash and Steiner start things off and brawl to the outside, only for a taped-up Goldberg to finally arrive and clobber Nash with a chair. From there, the group sort of takes it in turns to mix up pairs. Goldberg and Steiner fight a bit while Nash is out. Then after Goldberg shakes off a Steinerline and suplex, he kicks Steiner to the outside and Nash climbs back in for his turn. They punch and kick each other in the corner before Steiner comes back to hit his belly-to-belly suplex and Steinerline on Nash.
I could go through the rest of the bout move-for-move, trying to play up the positives of Goldberg and Steiner’s smash-mouth style over Nash’s usual schtick. But that isn’t what this match is famous, or infamous for. Nope. It’s when Nash sets Goldberg up for the Jack-knife Powerbomb, only for Goldberg to shove him away and gets out of the ring. Vince Russo comes out to get in Goldberg’s face, but the big guy just says “f**k you!” and leaves.
Oh yes, it’s worked-shoot time. The dirtsheets and websites had caught wind of Goldberg grumbling about losing on house shows, so Russo and the booking team decided to blur those lines and work it into this match. How meta. It doesn’t seem to impress the crowd, or anyone else. Schiavone and co are left pondering, while playing up the professionalism of Nash and Steiner. After all, as Schiavone says, “if…the Jack-knife Powerbomb was part of this design, what are they gonna do now? Improvise?”
The rest of the match ends up being a Nash-Steiner singles match, with both men getting their trademarks in, while Madden gets amazed over wrestlers improvising when things don’t go to plan. There’s even time for a ref bump and for Steiner’s valet Midajah to get 2 low blows in on Nash. But it doesn’t help; Steiner goes up for the powerbomb and Nash wins. Schiavone and co talk about who Nash may face at the next PPV- Booker T or Jarrett- while Hudson declares Goldberg to be “the crybaby we all thought he was.”
Schiavone says the next match will be for the World Tag Team championship, but we’ve all had enough of the Dark Carnival and KroniK for one night. So, there’s a video package playing up the championship match, Booker T’s long road to the gold, and Jarrett’s “lethal guitar”. It even calls Booker the “people’s champion”, which didn’t help him against accusations of being a knock-off Rock.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match
Booker T (C) vs. Jeff Jarrett
Michael Buffer gets a payday as he announces challenger and champ to the ring. Unlike Penzer, Schiavone and co avoid talking over him, so least the people at home can hear him. Much has been made about WCW’s title hot-shotting during the year 2000 alone. But Buffer announces Jarrett as a 4-time WCW champion, with each of those times taking place over the previous 5 months to this show. This is also the first of Booker T’s five reigns, with all but one of them occurring before 2001.
We get some in-ring psychology going on as, after Booker T spends a good chunk on offence, he misses a Missile Dropkick and Jarrett starts going after his injured knee. He kicks it, whacks it against the ring post, whacks it with a chair, drops it on the security barrier, and throws in a Boston Crab as well. This might be the first attempt to tell a clear, in-ring story that wasn’t a steaming pile of Russo since the Forklift match, and even that played to Russo’s gimmick obsession. Booker even gets in a few nice hope spots, including a sweet roll-up from the turnbuckle.
Still, WCW is WCW. They manage to fit in 2 ref bumps, but they aid the story rather than hindering it. The first occurs to make way for a Jarrett guitar shot to Booker’s knee, which leads to a Figure 4 that has Booker holding on for dear life until he reaches the ropes. The second is so Booker can get the upper hand and Rock Bott-I mean, Book End Jarrett through a table from the apron. Though it gets kind of old by the 3rd one when a new referee comes in and Jarrett waffles him with a chair. And right when that ref let Jarrett get away with a low blow right in front of him. Jarrett hits Booker with his finisher on the chair (“He’s gonna Stroke him on the chair!” cries Schiavone) and Ref #3, Li’l Naitch Charles Robinson, counts the 2. There’s another exchange of holds, with Jarrett trying to avoid another Book End, but eventually Booker hits it and gets the win. Booker’s music plays, the people cheer, Schiavone plugs next month’s Fall Brawl PPV, and we’re done.
The main event was perhaps as good as it was going to get for WCW in 2000. It’s still overbooked, going through refs like breadsticks, but it offered a solid in-ring story and gave everyone a clean winner. Which means, out of an 11-match card, only 2 of them are worth watching, and one of them involved an old lady tied to a forklift. There are better matches from both men elsewhere, though this one is at least reasonably well put-together. But again, those matches are best watched on their own on the Network.
I said this would be WCW’s lowest point critically, and it certainly shows. You know you’re in trouble when another appearance by David Arquette is a highlight than a lowlight, but him waltzing out for the forklift match is better than the ROTC match’s fake miscarriage and the worked shoot in the 3-Way Dance. Perhaps there’s a wrestling equivalent of Rifftrax that could make New Blood Rising less of a chore to sit through, but they’d have to work really hard to make it worth their while, let alone worth others.